Sixth-generation Whidbey Island resident taps family archives for Oak Harbor history

Peggy Darst Townsdin is all smiles after receiving a shipment of her new book,
Peggy Darst Townsdin is all smiles after receiving a shipment of her new book, 'Oak Harbor,' at her home on North Whidbey in early February. Sitting on her lap is her dog Zoey.
— image credit: Ron Newberry

Peggy Darst Townsdin couldn’t have been happier to see a white FedEx courier van arrive at her home last Wednesday.

Inside was the first mass shipment of her new book, “Oak Harbor.”

Hundreds of books were unloaded into her den.

“To finally have the book in hand is exciting,” Darst Townsdin said.

The book is a photo history of Oak Harbor based on historic images from her own family’s extensive collection as well as other sources from Whidbey Island.

Darst Townsdin is rooted in Oak Harbor history herself as a sixth generation islander and descendant of Oak Harbor’s earliest pioneers. Her great-great grandfather is Capt. Edward Barrington, a prominent early pioneer.

The book is part of the Arcadia Publishing “Images of America” series and is the third to feature a Whidbey Island town, joining Coupeville and Langley.

Darst Townsdin self-published two earlier books related to Whidbey Island history titled “Step Back in Time” and “Spirit of the Island,” but “Oak Harbor” is her first with a traditional publisher.

“I love it,” she said. “I think it came out really well. Arcadia Publishing did a professional job. I keep looking through it. I hope people will love it.”

“Oak Harbor” is a compact-sized, 128-page book that was written and designed by Darst Townsdin. She picked all the photos, including some she took herself, and wrote all the captions, except for ones on Whidbey Island Naval Air Station scripted by friend Scott Hornung.

Darst Townsdin sold more than 1,000 copies each of her self-published books and figures the demand for “Oak Harbor” will be even greater.

She purchased 500 copies to resell at $22 apiece, which includes tax, and in most cases on the island will attempt to deliver the book herself.

She said last week she already sold about 30 after a post she placed on her Facebook page.

“I like to meet people one on one,” she said. “This is the fun part at the end.”

For an additional $5, she also is mailing the books. It’s an additional $10, if books are sent to Alaska or Hawaii.

To order a copy of “Oak Harbor,” Darst Townsdin may be reached at 360-678-5970, or by email at

A chance to meet Darst Townsdin and see the book will be Feb. 15 in Oak Harbor.

On that day, Darst Townsdin will be attending a “Book Release Party and Open House” at Wind and Tide Bookshop from 1-5 p.m.

It will be an opportunity to purchase a book and get one signed and grab a cookie, she said.

Wind and Tide Bookshop will be selling the books there for $21.99 and will keep copies stocked, owner Karen Mueller said. The store, located at 790 S.E. Pioneer Way in historic downtown, already has signed copies for sale.

It’s a fitting place for the party considering the street was formerly named Barrington Avenue.


We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.

Read the Oct 22
Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Browse the archives.

Friends to Follow

View All Updates